The three attorneys serving as interim plaintiffs’ counsel in the Toyota multidistrict litigation have filed a joint Preliminary Report, pursuant to the Court’s April 14, 2010 CMO No. 1. See In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, No. 8:10-ml-02151-JVS-FMO (C.D. Cal., 4/30/10).
Among the topics covered were many of the basic MDL structural issues, including the proposed structure and roles of designated counsel. The parties recommended 18 attorneys to serve in leadership positions. More than 80 law firms and attorneys had filed applications by the May 3rd deadline to serve as lead counsel or in some other leadership role in this MDL.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys also recommended establishment of a core discovery committee led by the co-lead counsel for the two types of cases, personal injury and economic loss. Plaintiffs’ outlined their Core Discovery (types of information and documents, and types of discovery). Proposed core discovery included: (i) Floor Mat, (ii) Pedal, and (iii) Electronic Throttle systems issues. Plaintiffs’ core discovery includes probing allegations of the existence of a defect in Toyota vehicles responsible for alleged sudden unintended acceleration; and the design and manufacture process for the engine throttle control system (including pedals, floor mats, electronic control systems, accelerator pedals, throttle bodies, etc.). They also outlined proposed document discovery, as far back as the 1990s, claiming that design of that system began in the 1990s and that it was put in place in some vehicles as early as model year 1998.
Similarly, defendants outlined their proposed discovery in personal injury cases and economic loss cases. A key issue for them is the preservation of the vehicles in testable condition.
The parties offered a brief statement of the facts and legal issues, including class certification issues, standing issues, the application of the economic loss rule, choice of law, and the statute of limitations. Defendants’ specifically requested coordination with state court proceedings. There are now reportedly about 100 cases in 22 states.
Toyota has previously announced that it had retained an outside engineering and scientific consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive, independent analysis of Toyota and Lexus vehicles using the ETCS-i system (Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence) for concerns related to unintended acceleration.
Toyota has provided members of Congress with an interim, first phase report from this expert on its evaluation of the ETCS-i system, consistent with the company’s commitment to transparency regarding the quality and safety of its vehicles.